Thursday, July 31 2003

Why I Love Users, a parable of hacking

(based on a true story from my OSU-CIS days…)

User A notices that the department has installed a new sprinkler system. He immediately proceeds to find out everything about how it works, what it can do, and how reliable it is. People are astonished at how much he knows about it, and he basks in the warm glow of praise. One day, he uncovers a serious implementation flaw that no one knows about, and makes veiled references to it for several months, never to the people who are in a position to fix it. Finally, he decides to show people how bad the system is, and sets fire to the building. He’s careful to make sure that no one gets hurt, and that the damage is minor. When the fire-fighters approach him with blood in their eyes and axes in their hands, he smiles quietly and says, “I told you so; you should have listened.”

This being just a story, I feel compelled to permit the fire-fighters to hack the little toad to pieces, shouting “LIKE HELL YOU DID!”

The moral of this story is a variation on the Golden Rule:

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, because they can do unto you a lot harder.”